See also Site Map
posted December 2008
The City of Toronto employs over 50,000 people, and has attracted increasing legslative powers over the past few years. In addition the practical amalgamation of the various cities previously comprising Metropolitan Toronto is still ongoing.
CELOS is interested in learning about the organizational, management, and cultural factors within the City that influence the administration of public space within Toronto, particularly public parks, mainly through the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Department (PFR).
For example PFR has recently undergone a re-organization. Documentation for some of this can be found in the Research section of the Dufferin Park website (see the "City: Management" section of the "Management & Transparency" table). The Dufferin Park website material will eventually be moved here.
posted August 01, 2010
In 2009, Elinor Ostrom received the Nobel Prize in Economics for her work on the governance of "common pool resources" -- water, grazing lands, trees, fish, cyberspace. Her book Governing the Commons has prompted us to try applying her list of principles to eight specific park issues in Toronto. This application is being documented in an Ostrom Workbook, now in preparation. The question to be addressed in our workbook is: if park users (including on-site staff) collaborate day-to-day with municipal management in shaping local parks, can park governance in Toronto improve?
The city organizes itself around ongoing programs (within programs within programs...). Here we collect some notes about some specific programs that provide insight into how the city bureaucracy operates.
One way to look at city services is through the lens of physical infrastructure: it is the job of the city to provide and maintain good physical assets useful for Torontonians as we go about our lives.
We focus on parks infrastructure, since parks are a common meeting ground.
Of the collection of material here, the most extensive is for playgrounds. Playgrounds have undergone many transformations in the last several years, and we try to make sense of the reasons and effectiveness of these.
see also Website Usage
For our current set of publishing activities, see
CELOS Publishing is at an early stage. Among the current methods for dissemination of information are newsletters, websites, and publications.
Friends of Dufferin Grove Park began a monthly newsletter in September 2000, which has been published by CELOS since 2003. CELOS also distributes a weekly web newsletter about the Dufferin Park Farmers' market, and an occasional e-newsletter about Toronto city rinks.
Websites directly operated by CELOS include dufferinpark.ca, cityrinks.ca, and CELOS.ca. These collectively already have thousands of visitors per month. In addition CELOS has a free webhosting service (parkcommons.ca) as an "incubator" to help qualified community groups get started with a platform to further disseminate information about what they do in public space. These include the Toronto Community Garden Network website (tcgn.ca and more than a dozen others.
Publishing include booklets on the pleasures and safety considerations of outdoor cooking fires, and the use, management, and enjoyment of outdoor city rinks.
User Fee Policy, September 9, 2011.
In interpreting the distinction between fees and taxes, the courts require that a fee charged for a service or activity must bear a relationship to the cost of providing the service or activity for which the fee is charged. Subsection 259(2) of CoTA provides that the costs included in a user fee may include costs incurred for administration, enforcement and the establishment, acquisition and replacement of capital assets.
Division Heads need to determine whether the benefits each service provides accrue directly to specific individuals or groups of individuals (a private service), and should therefore be paid for by users of the service; or whether the service benefits the entire society (a public service) and should be funded from the property tax revenues. Read More >>
Toronto has more than 50,000 Full Time Equivalent staff positions (and a lot more people, since some are part-time). This army of people provide a varied set of services. Here we try to get some context and perspective on these staff, what they do, and what they cost.
Here is a recent picture showabout the unmaking' of Dufferin Grove Park.'
"Of course it is important to the political and social sciences that the essence of totalitarian government, and perhaps the nature of every bureaucracy, is to make functionaries and mere cogs in the administrative machinery out of people, and thus to dehumanize them. And one can debate long and profitably on the rule of Nobody, which is what the political form known as bureau-cracy truly is."
Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, Postscript.
The 2010 report by Dave Harvy and (Toronto Park People), funded by the Metcalf Foundation Fertile Ground for New Thinking Dave's concludes that it's time for Torontonians involved with parks to join their voices in bringing about park improvements.
Here is the City's list of "stakeholders" who were contacted to give their opinions about the Recreation Service Plan in May and June, 2011 (and the Parks Plan in September 2011). Here's the city's stakeholder list with contact links. If your "park friends" or advisory group is not on the list of groups who will be asked for their views, you can e-mail [email protected] and ask them to help you get on it.
What did the candidates say about parks and public spaces?''', read more >>
On June 22 2009 shortly after midnight, the approximately 24,000 members of Cupe Local 416 and Local 79 went on strike, read more >>
posted March 10, 2009
Here's an overview of the general structure of the City of Toronto as a Municipality: The Place of the Public Commons in Urban Society on publiccommons.ca. The overview organizes the Toronto Budget into 6 main areas as shown below. See the blog entry for details.
create an orange marker for broken links until they get fixed
posted January 30, 2005. Updated March 18, 2009
City of Toronto corporate phone directory
On toronto.ca see City Council and Committee Weekly Meeting Schedules.
Links to Source Documents presented to various City of Toronto Standing Committees
Aquatics: http://www.toronto.ca/budget2008/pdf/op08_bn_aslc_2.pdf To achieve the 2008 Operating Budget target, it is recommended that 2 outdoor pools be closed, for savings of $123,100 and a reduction of 2.6 approved positions in 2008.
User fees: Feb.11 2008 http://www.toronto.ca/budget2008/pdf/op08_bn_recfee.pdf
Staff increases http://www.toronto.ca/budget2008/pdf/op08_bn_staff_positions.pdf
An increase of 64.1 new positions, consisting of 20 permanent and 44.1 temporary is required almost entirely to operate new parkland and facilities coming into service. Included are new Waterfront Parks and others secured through funding arising from development agreements. Also, 7 of these new permanent positions represent improved service levels in Forestry.
The Governance Envelope contains the following folders:
See also the Legal and Regulatory Envelope, including: